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When work-life imbalance results in medical board investigation

In our last post, we began discussing a recent study which looked at the effectiveness of work-life balance interventions at reducing physician error rates on the job. As we noted, the study showed that not all intervention strategies are necessarily effective at achieving this goal, even if helping physicians to achieve better work-life balance can still result in meaningful changes in patient outcomes.

To repeat something we mentioned last time, work-life balance can be a factor in actions taken by state medical boards against physicians. Failure to maintain work-life balance can negatively impact a physician’s work in a variety of ways, from impacting his or her alertness and judgment to making it difficult to even get to work at all.  

As we’ve previously discussed on this blog, physicians can be subjected to disciplinary action on a variety of grounds, such as lack of ability to practice medicine with reasonable skill and safety, unethical conduct, drug or alcohol addiction, or improperly managing medical records. A physician whose inability to balance work and life becomes serious may find that he or she becomes involved in incidents which cause the state medical board to conduct an investigation, even when those events don’t cause serious harm to patients.

In addition, work-life balance can be a factor in the type of disciplinary action taken by the board against a physician. The type of disciplinary action imposed by the medical board varies depending on the circumstances of the case, but can include things like addressing addictions, medical conditions related to stress, ineffective work strategies, and so on.

Physicians who come under medical board investigation because of their inability to balance work and life, or for any other reason, can and should work with an experienced attorney to ensure they have an advocate throughout the process.